February 2024 School Safety Community Bulletin: Events, Opportunities, and Resources

School Safety Events and Opportunities

February 2024

Latest News

Federal Government Announces New Actions and Resources to Promote Safe Storage of Firearms
The federal government announced new actions to help promote safe storage of firearms in order to reduce gun violence and make communities safer. These actions emphasize the role that principals and education leaders can play in helping prevent gun violence and include a new resource released by the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center that schools can use to communicate with parents and families about the importance of safe firearm storage. The resource is structured as a customizable letter template that outlines the issue of firearm-related injuries and deaths, how it affects school communities, and highly effective practices to help reduce firearm-related incidents.

Justice Department Releases Report on the Uvalde School Shooting Response
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released the report on its critical incident review of the law enforcement response to the tragic school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022. The report provides a detailed accounting and critical assessment of the first responder actions in Uvalde and the efforts since to ameliorate gaps and deficiencies in that response. The report is also intended to build on the knowledge base for responding to incidents of mass violence and identifies generally accepted practices for an effective law enforcement response to such incidents.

HHS Announces $50 Million in Grants to Deliver Critical School-Based Health Services to Children
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, announced $50 million in grants for states to connect millions more children to critical health care services, particularly for mental health, at school. Made possible by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the grants will provide 20 states up to $2.5 million each in funding to help implement, enhance, and expand the use of school-based health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

FBI Reports Increase in Hate Crimes at U.S. Schools
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a new report detailing a steady rise in hate crimes at schools since 2020. According to the report, schools were the third most common location for reported hate crimes to occur in the U.S. from 2018 to 2022, and from 2020 to 2022, the number of hate crimes at schools more than doubled. The report, which was created using data from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, aims to provide a deeper understanding of hate crime incidence so that law enforcement and school administrations can work to mitigate or prevent future hate crimes at school.

SAMHSA Releases Updated Overdose Prevention and Response Toolkit
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the release of its updated Overdose Prevention and Response Toolkit. The toolkit provides updated guidance on preventing overdoses, responding to stimulant or opioid overdoses, and offers population-specific guidance for a range of audiences. SAMHSA is also currently running the FentAlert Challenge, which offers adolescents aged 14-18 the opportunity to creatively engage their peers about the dangers of fentanyl and fake pills. The challenge is open until February 26.

New NCES Report Presents Findings on School Crime and Safety
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within ED’s Institute of Education Sciences, released new data on the state of school crime and safety, as well as the school environment, in U.S. public schools. According to the report, 67 percent of public schools recorded at least one violent incident in 2021-22, and 90 percent of public schools noted an increase in social and emotional support for students in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The new data come from NCES’s School Survey on Crime and Safety, a nationally representative survey of about 4,800 public elementary and secondary schools.

SchoolSafety.gov Celebrates Fourth Anniversary
February marks the fourth anniversary of SchoolSafety.gov, an ongoing and collaborative effort among the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice to provide critical information and tools that support K-12 school safety. The site serves as a comprehensive online repository of more than 600 federal and state resources across a range of school safety topics, and provides functional and easy-to-use tools to help K-12 schools and districts inform and enhance school safety programs and activities.

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Grants and Funding Opportunities

Upcoming Deadlines

Ongoing Deadlines

Informational Webinars on Funding Opportunities

Visit the SchoolSafety.gov Grants Finder Tool for additional school safety-related funding opportunities.

Events, Webinars, and Conferences

Understanding and Preventing Youth Suicide (February 13) – This webinar, hosted by the Central East Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) and the National Center for School Mental Health, will provide information on the factors that contribute to youth suicide and mental health disparities among minoritized youth as well as resources and strategies to intervene with youth who are at risk for suicide. 

Expert Q&A: Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying Among Teens (February 14) – This online session, hosted by the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center, will serve as a forum for attendees to engage with an expert on topics such as the impact of cyberstalking and cyberbullying on teens, what teachers and schools can do to prevent or reduce their incidence, how to report cyberstalking and cyberbullying, and what laws are in place to protect teens.

Providing Ongoing Supports to Ensure All Students Are Free to Learn (February 14) – This webinar, hosted by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, is the fourth in the Free to Learn webinar series, which offers evidence-based practices to prevent, address, and ameliorate the effects of bullying, violence, and hate while also supporting school safety, school-based mental health, and positive school climates. In this session, subject matter experts will discuss strategies to shift school cultures and reduce the likelihood of identity-based bullying.

Understanding Firearm-Related Injury and School Violence Series (February 14, 28, and March 13) – This podcast interview series, hosted by the National Center for School Safety, will cover topics such as youth suicide prevention, anonymous reporting systems, and community engagement. Listeners will gain a broad understanding of the intersection of school safety strategies and firearm-related injury.

Using Data to Prioritize School-Based CVI Efforts (February 16)This webinar, hosted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, will highlight how schools can utilize the vast amounts of data they collect to help prioritize who and where to deploy Community Violence Intervention (CVI) resources.

Federal Resources for K-12 Security Threats and Incidents (February 20)This virtual training, hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, will focus on federal resources available to address current threats facing K-12 schools and school districts. Resources and programs covered during this event will focus on topics such as bomb threats and threats originating on social media, threat assessment and reporting, and cyberattacks.

Supporting Autistic Students in the Classroom with Anxiety: Your Questions Answered Part II (February 21) – This webinar, hosted by the Southeast MHTTC, will provide information on evidence-based approaches and practices that can be used within schools to help manage anxiety in autistic students.

Enhancing School Safety Using Behavioral Threat Assessment (March 8, May 8, July 11) – These virtual training events, hosted by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC), will highlight the key findings and implications of NTAC’s research on school violence prevention. Attendees will learn about the background, thinking, and behavior of school attackers and how some schools discovered and stopped plots before violence occurred. This training will also provide guidance on how schools may develop or improve existing violence prevention programs utilizing a behavioral threat assessment model.

Preventing Mass Attacks in Our Communities (April 4, June 5) – These virtual training events, hosted by NTAC, will cover important findings from NTAC’s research on mass attacks perpetrated in public and semi-public spaces, including businesses, restaurants, bars, retail outlets, houses of worship, schools, open spaces, and more. This training will provide guidance on how communities may develop or improve existing violence prevention programs utilizing a behavioral threat assessment model.

Visit the SchoolSafety.gov Events Page for additional school safety-related webinars, conferences, and more.

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School Safety Resources

Cybersecurity Resources

K-12 Digital Infrastructure Brief: Defensible & Resilient
This brief highlights cybersecurity recommendations and promising practices from states and districts across the country. It is designed to help schools build solutions for their own contexts and offers examples from the field of those who faced challenges to connectivity, accessibility, cybersecurity, data privacy, and other infrastructure issues and designed solutions for their challenges.

K-12 Education Leaders’ Guide to Ransomware: Prevention, Response, and Recovery Webinar
This recorded webinar focuses on the steps K-12 schools can take to prevent, respond to, and recover from ransomware attacks, as well as free services that administrators can utilize to protect their schools.

Violence Prevention Resources

Improving School Safety Through Bystander Reporting: A Toolkit for Strengthening K-12 Reporting Programs
This toolkit offers simple strategies and guidance K-12 schools and school districts can use to implement and enhance safety reporting programs and encourage bystander reporting among students and other members of the school community.

School Violence Prevention: Tips for Parents and Educators
This webpage offers tips for parents and educators on speaking to children about school violence. It provides information on what to say, suggested key points, and age-appropriate conversation guidelines.

Additional School Safety Resources

Bullying Prevention for Parents of Middle School Students
This webpage provides tips and information for parents and guardians of middle school students about what bullying is, how to identify warning signs and prevent bullying, what to do if your child is involved in bullying, and other common bullying-related concerns.

Collaboration and Community Partnerships: Strategies for Effective School and Higher Ed Emergency Operations Plan Development
This fact sheet presents strategies and tips for initiating and managing core and ad-hoc collaborative emergency planning teams, as well as strengthening partnerships for effective emergency operations plan development.

Visit SchoolSafety.gov for additional resources to support school safety and security efforts.

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If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future newsletters, please contact us at SchoolSafety@hq.dhs.gov

SchoolSafety.gov Disclaimer
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Education (ED), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) do not endorse any individual, enterprise, product, or service. DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS do not mandate or prescribe practices, models, or other activities described in this communication. DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information outside of those respective Departments, and the opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of DHS, ED, DOJ, and HHS.